Update: Playster cancels accounts for excessive usage

Yesterday, I posted about user claims that Playster is apparently cancelling users’ memberships because they are consuming too much content. The service is marketed as offering unlimited access to media content. There are a series of complaints, most dated over the last ten days, on sites like Trustpilot and Pissed Consumer, all claiming that their accounts were unjust flagged by the system’s fair use algorithm. These users then found their accounts cancelled or suspended. All of the members seemed to be heavy users of audiobooks.

I reached out to Playster for their side of the story. Here is their response:

Playster’s fair use algorithm has two major goals: to deter fraud and help us keep the service unlimited for all audiobook lovers.

After discovering cases of average consumption exceeding 24 hours per day, concurrent streaming on multiple IP addresses and other activity that appeared to be in violation of our terms and conditions, we felt we had no option but to take an extra cautious approach with accounts resembling any of the following:

  • Commercial use;
  • Automated consumption;
  • Recording or duplicating content;
  • Unauthorized sharing, leasing or distribution of content;
  • Public broadcasting;
  • Multiple accounts created with the same device, IP address or credit card
  • Accounts using a blacklisted device, IP address or credit card;
  • Use of a VPN or Proxy IP.

We realize some accounts may have been flagged unjustly, which is why all members were refunded their last membership charge and everyone affected was invited to submit an appeal form, so that we may address all concerns in detail with the attention they deserve. If anyone hasn’t received the appeal form or has any questions, they can email support@playster.com.

Several items on the above list are troubling to me. First, flagging an account solely because of an IP address can be a recipe for disaster (please google records companies charging 80 year old great-grandmothers with infringement for details). For a variety of reasons, IP addresses are not always unique. People create accounts from workplaces or apartment buildings that share internet access. IP address alone is not sufficient reason for denying access to an account.

Perhaps most troubling is the assumption that the use of a VPN or proxy IP suggests illegal actions. There are host of valid reasons to use a VPN for both privacy and security concerns. The use of a VPN should not imply illegal consumption of content.

Playster’s response said that members were invited to submit an appeal form. None of the complaints I read on either Trustpilot or Pissed Consumer mentioned being offered an appeal form. In fact, several of them have commented on the lack of response and long delays in hearing from customer service. At this point, no one has said that they were able to get their account reinstated.

If you have had an experience with this issue, please let me know in the comments. Are you a VPN user? Were you offered an appeal form? Was customer service’s response?  Did you get your account reinstated?

I will follow up on this story as more information becomes available.

(You can read my review of the Playster service here.)

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Is Playster booting customers for reading too much?

One of my most popular posts on this blog is a review of the all-you-can-read subscription service Playster from March of 2016. Today, I received a disturbing comment on that post that claimed that Playster is apparently cancelling users’ memberships because they are consuming too much content.

According to commenter manderleylife, their account was flagged by Playster’s algorithm:

On Aug 19 I got an email from them: We’re contacting you to let you know that your Playster membership has been flagged automatically by our fair use algorithm. As a result, your membership has been frozen while we investigate why the activity on your account triggered this algorithm. To put it simply, they said my usage resembled “commercial use, automated consumption, recording/duplicating, sharing or using multiple accounts created with same device.” Playster “investigated” it and said they couldn’t determine if I was doing anything illegal so they were cancelling my membership!

Manderleylife stresses that they didn’t share or illegally use content; they were listening to audiobooks for perhaps 6-7 hours each day. Note that Playster markets its service as offing unlimited reading.

Manderleylife also pointed out that other members (also avid readers) had also had their memberships frozen and cancelled. A brief search on the internet showed a series of complaints, most dated over the last ten days, on sites like Trustpilot and Pissed Consumer. The stories are startlingly similar. All claim that their memberships were cancelled even though there was no proof of wronging other than heavy usage.

These reports showcase the problem with the all-you-can-read (or listen to) model. Avid users can indeed go through a high volume of content through the legal use a service. Just ask Scribd, who in February, 2016 had to put content limits in place and deleted most of their romance titles from the catalog, just to stop the financial drain.

While Scribd changed their system to stop the bleed, it does sound like Playster is cancelling memberships of users who are consuming more content than they are comfortable with. Unfortunately for Playster, they have marketed the service as unlimited. Cancelling memberships with no clear evidence of wrongdoing is not the right way to treat your customers.

I am reaching out to Playster to see what they have to says about the situation. More to come…

(Note: There’s an update to this story with a statement from Playster here.)

Library ebook poll

Here’s a question for those of you who borrow ebooks from your library: When do you return them?

Edited to add: I am gathering info for a article on library hold times.

Daily Links and Deals: Can this giant E Ink tablet make paper obsolete?

daily_links_1Daily Links for Friday, December 2,  2016:

Under pressure from national governments, Commission lowers VAT rates for e-books (EurActiv) New ruling allows EU countries to apply for a lower VAT for ebooks if they choose.

Kindle to support e-books in five Indian languages (The Hindu) Amazon is adding books in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam.

Can this giant E Ink tablet make paper obsolete? (The Verge) I am trying to convince my legal pad loving husband he wants one of these, LOL!

There’s a 99 percent chance your fake Apple charger isn’t safe (CNET) A staggering ninety-nine percent of these chargers fail safety tests.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes The Language of the Dead: A World War II Mystery by Stephen Kelly.

In Today’s Deals, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies on Blu-ray. Also, Bluetooth headsets from SoundPEATS and premium tea and accessories. (Who can say no to tea?)

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is over 30 music biographies (Leonard Cohen, John Lennon and more). The Romance Daily Find is all three books in the Tremayne Family series by Anna J. Stewart.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Hawke (A Cold Fury Hockey Novel Book 5) by Sawyer Bennett. The Extra Daily Deal is The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is still out of stock until early 2017.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Great Books, Amazing Deals includes The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Daily Links and Deals – Reminder: That selfie you want to take in the voting booth could be illegal

daily_links_1Daily Links for Monday, November 7,  2016:

Here we go again: Microsoft’s popping up ads from the Windows 10 toolbar (PC World) Can Microsoft stop with this already? I am also getting these.

The guy that added Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ to a singing fish is the hero we all need (The Next Web) Warning: You cannot unsee this….

Reminder: That selfie you want to take in the voting booth could be illegal (Recode) This article links to a handy chart that tells you the laws (or lack thereof) in each state.

Google tries basing its search index around mobile websites  (Engadget) Now that mobile visits are outnumbering desktop hits, Google is testing a mobileifirst algorithm.

E-Books Success – Can Amazon Kindle? (Tech Featured) Here’s a fun guessing game: Can we extrapolate the estimated number of ebooks Amazon sill sell based on the five years of iTunes sales?

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes several cookbooks: The Big Book of Casseroles: 250 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food by Maryana Vollstedt and Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever with More Than 400 Easy-to-Make Recipes by Diane Phillips, James Baigrie.

In Today’s DealsThe Hunger Games: Complete 4 Film Collection [Blu-ray + Digital HD]. It is also available in DVD format.

Been thinking about an buying an Echo? Get one on sale today for $10 off.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard. The Romance Daily Find is Sarah’s Garden by Kelly Long.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is Calendar Girl: Volume One by Audrey Carlan. The Extra Daily Deal is War Dogs (Book 1) by Greg Bear.

You can buy 2, get 1 free and save on Fern Michaels’ holiday romance titles until November 30.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is still out of stock.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin.

Google Books has a selection of Big Deals.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Daily Links and Deals: It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet

daily_links_1Today, news that the EU has finally (and sensibly) ruled that ebooks are actually books, paving the way to lower VAT prices. Also, a look at how New York City’s public WiFi is serving the poor, a new way for YouTube creators to interact with their followers and how one library is making itself a public space attraction. In deals, savings on Fossil bags and watches and a Panasonic bread machine. Also, new choices for the Amazon Echo and a new generation of the Echo Dot.

Daily Links for day, September 14, 2016:

Is New York City’s Public Wi-Fi Actually Connecting the Poor? (Motherboard) Part of the mission of LinkNYC is to address the digital divide. How’s it actually doing?

YouTube launches ‘Community’ in beta w/ a new tab for posting text, images, GIFs, and more (9 to 5 Google) Now content creators can engage with their followers directly.

It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet (Roger Packer) This opens the door to slash the very high EU VAT on ebooks. (This story was in the Financial Times yesterday, but I won’t link to paywalled content.)

Shhhh…ake it off at the library, the new happening place to be (KUOW) How libraries are re-imagining themselves as public spaces.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Good Earth (The Good Earth Trilogy Book 1) by Pearl S. Buck.

In Today’s Deals, get 50% off Fossil watches, bags and more. Also, there’s a Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser, White.

Echo news:  Amazon has now released the Echo a second color. You can pre-order now to get it in white. It will be available on September 28, 2016. There is also an  All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) which will be available in both black and white and retails for $49.99.  Amazon is offering some interesting bundles, like the one pairing a Echo Dot with the Bose Soundlink Mini II. The Dot is also being offering in a “Buy 5, get 1 free” six-pack. The new Echo Dot will be released on October 20, 2016.

Alexa and the Echo and the Echo Dot are also coming to the UK and later, Germany. See http://www.amazon.co.uk/echo for details.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen. The Romance Daily Find is Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee.

Barnes and Noble also has a selection of NOOK Books Under $2.99.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Big Thaw by Donald Harstad. The Extra Daily Deal is Mad Tinker Chronicles Collection by J.S. Morin.

There is also a selection of Great Reads Under $5 and Bargain Reads in Fiction, in Mystery and other genres. The Kobo Aura One (and the Aura Edition 2 e-readers are now available for order at the Kobo store. (The Aura One is out of stock until September 23, 2016.)

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee.

Google Books has a selection of Topsellers Under $10.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.

Daily Links and Deals: Putting Books at the Center of Our Conversation?

daily_links_1Today, a look at the idea of turning off the TV and putting books at the center of our conversation. Also, is best-selling fiction making us dumber, the big fuss over the latest Harry Potter book, smartphone biometrics and more. In deals, the Bourne series on Blu-ray and the Fire HD 10 is on sale again.

Daily Links for day, August 1, 2016:

Saturday on the Couch – Are eBooks Making Us Dumber? (Starts at 60) Just how is the focus on best-selling fiction affecting us.

‘Harry Potter’ is back — and so is the bookstore hoopla we haven’t seen since 2007 (Chicago Tribune) Fans are super excited about buying the latest in the series.

Putting Books at the Center of Our Conversation? (Inside Higher Ed) What if we all turn off the TVs and talk books?

Why Smartphones Are Now Adding Iris Scanners (Motherboard) First fingerprints,now Iris scanners. Just how much biometrics do you need to protect your phone?

10 Tricks to Make Yourself a Google Drive Master (Gizmodo) Tips to get the most out of Google drive.

Deals of the Day:

Amazon’s selection of Kindle Daily Deals includes Tracer (Outer Earth) by Rob Boffard.

In Today’s DealsThe Bourne Classified Collection (Bourne Identity / Bourne Supremacy / Bourne Ultimatum / Bourne Legacy) (Blu-ray + Digital HD). Amazon also has the Fire HD 10 Tablet on sale for $50 off.

The Barnes and Noble Nook Daily Find is David Bowie’s Low by Hugo Wilcken. The Romance Daily Find is I Want Candy by Susan Donovan.

Kobo’s Daily Deal is The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. The Extra Daily Deal is The Girl Who Lied by Sue Fortin.

iTunes’ Weekly Bestsellers Under $4 includes How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Gamache Book 9) by Louise Penny.

Google Books has a selection of Hot Book Deals.

(A note on Daily Deals: All prices current at the time of posting and subject to change. Most items marked Daily Deals are good for only the day posted.

Many large promotions have discount pricing that is set by the publisher. This usually means that titles can be found at a discount price across most platforms (with iTunes sometimes being the exception). If you have a favorite retailer you like to patronize, check the title on that website. There is a good chance that they will be matching the sale price.)


Daily Links are interesting links I discover as I go about my online day. The frequency and number of links posted depend upon the daily news. I also post other, different links of interest on Twitter, Facebook, and on the Google Plus eBook Evangelist Page.